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Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills and Get the Salary You Deserve

Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiation is not an easy task for many people, but it’s even harder when you are a newcomer to a country. The case study below shows how a little bit of research and some coaching strategies led to job search success for one client.

My client and his family arrived in Canada two months ago – July 2010. We began working together months before he left Asia, and by the time he arrived, he had had his professional resume, cover letter and other related resources ready to begin his job search.

His first interview was in response to a job posting for a temporary position as Senior Research Advisor with a major Canadian institution. The position required a Masters Degree or a PhD, and he has the latter. After his second interview he was sent an email with a preliminary offer, but there was one glitch; the hourly rate was not quite what he was expecting. He asked me to help him prepare a negotiation strategy as he wanted to accept the offer, but at a higher pay rate.

I asked him to consider questions such as: What’s the minimum he would be willing to accept? What was most important to him – the money or the experience? How important would the experience be for him as he moves his career forward? What would he do if they stuck to, or withdrew the offer? I advised him to research the pay rate for similar positions so he would know where to start his negotiations. I also advised him to have a Plan B just in case they said they couldn’t raise the offer. He was also concerned about hours of work and benefits, considering it was a six-month temporary position. We brainstormed on how he would handle those issues if and when they came up. At the moment, the money was the sticky issue.

With all bases covered, I helped him to craft the following response:

Dear Mr. ________:

Thank you very much for your email indicating that you would like to offer me the temporary position of Senior Research Advisor. While it would be a privilege for me to work for ___________, and contribute my knowledge and experience to the position, I find the hourly rate of $24, lower than I had expected. Having met with me twice, I am sure you have recognized the value I would bring to __________. Would you consider raising the rate to $28? If you could do that, I would accept your offer.

Not only did they consider his request, but they offered him $30 per hour – $2 more per hour than he had asked for, and $6 more than their original offer.

Careful research, understanding his value, and a little bit of coaching helped him to ink the deal. He could easily have accepted the first offer on the basis that he was new to Canada and should take what was offered, but he did a few things right. First, he researched the salary range for similar positions. Second, he sought help, as this was a new arena for him, and third, he presented a counter-offer, knowing that his offer could be rejected.  He took a risk and his efforts paid off, and he will start his new job in two weeks.

What do you think of this approach? What additional advice would you have given him? Please add your comments below.